Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The influence of environment on galaxy evolution
by Just, Dennis William, Ph.D., The University of Arizona, 2012, 153; 3547322
Abstract (Summary)

We study the influence of environment on galaxy evolution by focusing on two galaxy types known for their connection to dense environments, S0s and Brightest Cluster Galaxies (BCGs). Our goal is to identify the mechanisms responsible for the properties of galaxies in groups and clusters.

We first examine the effects of environment on S0 formation over the past ~7 Gyr by tracing the increasing S0 fraction in clusters at two mass scales. We find the build-up of S0s driven by groups/clusters with velocity dispersions of σ < 750 km/s, suggesting mechanisms that operate most efficiently via slow encounters (e.g., mergers and tidal interactions) form S0s.

With less-massive halos identified as the site for S0 formation, we test whether another route to S0 formation exists, not in isolated groups but rather in a system of four merging groups (SG1120). We place limits on how recent the S0s in that system could have formed, and finding no star formation, conclude they formed > 1 Gyr prior to SG1120's current configuration, when they were in more isolated groups.

We next explore cluster outskirts to constrain the number of infalling galaxies that need to be transformed and whether that process has already begun. We find the red fraction of infalling galaxies is elevated relative to the field, and that red galaxies are more clustered than blue ones, a signature of "pre-processing".

We disentangle the relative strength of global versus local environment on galaxy transformation by comparing the correlation of red fraction with radius and local density. We find that both parameters are connected with the red fraction of galaxies.

Finally, we measure the frequency of galaxies falling into the cluster that are bright enough to supplant the current BCG and compare the results to models. We find in ~85% of our clusters that the BCG is secure and remains in its priviledged state until z ~ 0.

From these analyses, we find that intermediate density environments (groups and cluster outskirts) are the key site to forming S0 galaxies, and that BCGs, while not exclusively a cluster phenomenon, are well established by the redshifts we explore.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Zaritsky, Dennis
Commitee: Dave, Romeel, Fan, Xiaohui, Olszewski, Edward, Zabludoff, Ann
School: The University of Arizona
Department: Astronomy
School Location: United States -- Arizona
Source: DAI-B 74/04(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Astrophysics, Astronomy
Keywords: Galaxy clusters, Galaxy evolution
Publication Number: 3547322
ISBN: 978-1-267-81953-6
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